Results tagged “links”

Feminism, Corruption, Privacy, Remix

December 13, 2013

Apartheid, Impostors, Toto, Sending, Collection, Biden

December 13, 2013

Embrace, Fellowship, Charity, Keyboards, Questlove,

December 12, 2013

Smarter, Albums, Pimp, Upworthy

December 10, 2013

Medium, Beyoncé, Surveillance, Newt

December 9, 2013

Derby, Mario, Mike, Feed, Gravity

December 6, 2013

3D, Audiences, Drupal, Tumblrs, Structure

December 5, 2013

Funk, Salaries, Tip, Medium and Robots

December 4, 2013

Comets, Planes, Documentaries, Devils and Drones

December 3, 2013

Monument of Self-Regard and Links

August 30, 2012

I sure do like talking to people! Here's some recent conversations:

  • MIT Tech Review offered up A Twitter Tweak or a Revolution in Online Discourse? as a look at Branch. (Where, full disclosure, I've graduated from unofficial advisor to slightly-more-official advisor.) I have to reject the "Best Thing Ever or Completely Meaningless?" framing of the headline, but I liked the thoughtful understanding of the history of comments online that informed the piece.
  • Oh, and speaking of Twitter (AS WE ALWAYS DO), here's me on Bloomberg West talking about Twitter's policy changes. TV is fun!
  • If you're a regular reader of this site, you of course love animated gifs, since we've been talking about them for years. The Content Strategist (that's a real publication!) jumps into the fray with What the Rise of Animated GIFs Means for Content, a delightfully serious look at the editorial strategy around animated GIFs. A year ago we were discussing GIFs as ascendant, six years ago we discussed GIFs as having finally been worthy of artistic recognition and a scant 23 years ago, they were just being invented. Progress!
  • David Jacobs ruminates on #NOFOMO. I'd shared some of the same misgivings about that phrasing, but the concept is useful.
  • Data on the country club from Benjamin Jackson over at Buzzfeed. I like it as a data-driven view into the ideas I was exploring a few weeks ago.
  • Oh, and I had some fun talking to Microsoft's Twitter account on they day they announced their new logo:

Microsoft's Good Day

Aaaaand I think that's it. You all keep on writing, and I'll do the same, and we'll meet back here in a little while.

Responses and Replies

January 9, 2012

A few nice conversations around the web, either in response to or inspired by what I've been talking about here:

  • My favorite TechCrunch post in a long time is Jon Evans' Scheming Intentions, which outlines a simple way that native mobile apps could take a tentative step towards re-integrating with the web.
  • Shapeways, the delightful 3D printing-on-demand service wrote a deep and thoughtful response to my ideas about where 3D printing is headed. BoingBoing had a quick take on the post, too, and I found the comments entertaining.
  • I liked Michael Newman's recap of his favorites from 2011, especially his ruminations on animated .gifs.
  • I had a blast talking to Leo Laporte and Tom Merritt on the Triangulation show — I know spending the better part of an hour listening to me ramble is a lot, but I'm very proud of the conversation about blogging in the first half, and hope that justifies enduring this for some folks:

Watch Fixing Government: Anil Dash on a social media revolution for Congress on PBS. See more from Need to Know.

Facebook is gaslighting the web. We can fix it.

November 21, 2011

Facebook has moved from merely being a walled garden into openly attacking its users' ability and willingness to navigate the rest of the web. The evidence that this is true even for sites which embrace Facebook technologies is overwhelming, and the net result is that Facebook is gaslighting users into believing that visiting the web is dangerous or threatening.

In this post I intend to not only document the practices which enable this attack, but to also propose a remedy.

1. You Cannot Bring Your Content In To Facebook

Facebook RSS warning

This warning appeared on Facebook two weeks ago to advise publishers (including this site) that syndicate their content to Facebook Notes via RSS that the capability would be removed starting tomorrow. Facebook's proposed remedy involves either completely recreating one's content within Facebook's own Notes feature, or manually creating status updates which link to each post on the original blog. Remember that second option, linking to each post manually — we'll return to it later.

2. Publishers Whose Content Is Captive Are Privileged

Over at CNET, Molly Wood made a powerful case against the proliferation of Facebook apps that enable ongoing, automated sharing of behavior data after only a single approval from a user. In her words:

Now, it's tempting to blame your friends for installing or using these apps in the first place, and the publications like the Post that are developing them and insisting you view their stories that way. But don't be distracted. Facebook is to blame here. These apps and their auto-sharing (and intercepts) are all part of the Open Graph master plan.

When Facebook unveiled Open Graph at the f8 developer conference this year, it was clear that the goal of the initiative is to quantify just about everything you do on Facebook. All your shares are automatic, and both Facebook and publishers can track them, use them to develop personalization tools, and apply some kind of metric to them.

As Molly's piece eloquently explains, what Facebook is calling "frictionless" sharing is actually placing an extremely high barrier to the sharing of links to sites on the web. Ordinary hyperlinks to the rest of the web are stuck in the lower reaches of a user's news feed, competing for bottom position on a news feed whose prioritization algorithm is completely opaque. Meanwhile, sites that foolishly and shortsightedly trust all of their content to live within Facebook's walls are privileged, at the cost of no longer controlling their presence on the web.

3. Web sites are deemed unsafe, even if Facebook monitors them

As you'll notice below, I use Facebook comments on this site, to make it convenient for many people to comment, and to make sure I fully understand the choices they are making as a platform provider. Sometimes I get a handful of comments, but on occasion I see some very active comment threads. When a commenter left a comment on my post about Readability last week, I got a notification message in the top bar of my Facebook page to let me know. Clicking on that notification yielded this warning message:


What's remarkable about this warning message is not merely that an ordinary, simple web content page is being presented as a danger to a user. No, it's far worse:

  • Facebook is warning its users about the safety of a page which incorporates Facebook's own commenting features, meaning even web sites that embrace Facebook's technologies can be marginalized
  • Facebook is displaying this warning despite the fact that Facebook's own systems have indexed the page and found that it incorporates their own Open Graph information.

To illustrate this second point, I'll include what is a fairly nerdy illustration for those interested. If you're sufficiently interested in the technical side of this, what's being shown is Facebook's own URL linter, as viewed through the social plugins area in the developer console for a site. In this view, it verifies not only that the Open Graph meta tags are in place (minus an image placeholder, as the referenced post has no images), but that Facebook has crawled the site and verified enough of the content of the page to know their own comment system is in place on the page. (Click to view the whole page, with only the app ID numbers redacted.)


How to Address This Attack

Now, we've shown that Facebook promotes captive content on its network ahead of content on the web, prohibits users from bringing open content into their network, warns users not to visit web content, and places obstacles in front of visits to web sites even if they've embraced Facebook's technologies and registered in Facebook's centralized database of sites on the web.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of web users visit Facebook through relatively open web browsers. For these users, there is a remedy which could effectively communicate the danger that Facebook represents to their web browsing habits, and it would be available to nearly every user except those using Facebook's own clients on mobile platforms.

This is the network of services designed to warn users about dangers on the web, one of the most prominent of which is Stop Badware. From that site comes this description:

Some badware is not malicious in its intent, but still fails to put the user in control. Consider, for example, a browser toolbar that helps you shop online more effectively but neglects to mention that it will send a list of everything you buy online to the company that provides the toolbar.

I believe this description clearly describes Facebook's behavior, and strongly urge Stop Badware partners such as Google (whose Safe Browsing service is also used by Mozilla and Apple), as well as Microsoft's similar SmartScreen filter, to warn web users when visiting Facebook. Given that Facebook is consistently misleading users about the nature of web links that they visit and placing barriers to web sites being able to be visited through ordinary web links on their network, this seems an appropriate and necessary remedy for their behavior.

Part of my motivation for recommending this remedy is to demonstrate that our technology industry is capable of regulating and balancing itself when individual companies act in ways that are not in the best interest of the public. It is my sincere hope that this is the case.

Further Reading

Many aspects of this conversation are not, of course, new topics. Some key pieces you may be interested in:

  • As I was researching this piece, Marshall Kirkpatrick published Why Facebook's Seamless Sharing is Wrong over on ReadWriteWeb, articulating many of these same concerns. His piece is well worth reading.
  • Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures makes a strong case for the long-term goal of a network of networks. I fully share his vision here, and hope most in our industry will endorse this idea as well.
  • Molly Wood's excellent look at Facebook sharing which I referenced above is worth reading in its entirety.
  • Blackbird, Rainman, Facebook and the Watery Web was a more optimistic look at how web platforms evolve that I wrote four years ago when Facebook was much less dominant.
  • The Facebook Reckoning a year ago offered a perspective on the values and privilege that inform Facebook's decision-making.
  • My ruminations on ThinkUp and Software With Purpose last week also explored the related danger of Facebook deleting everything you've ever created on their site.

All Around The Web

July 13, 2009

There have been a lot of great conversations around and about some of my recent posts; Here are some highlights.

My post about Google's Microsoft Moment seems to have really struck a nerve. First amongst the responses, from my perspective, is prominent Googler Matt Cutts' "Why Googlers should read Anil Dash's post. The open-mindedness and willingness to take constructive criticism that Matt shares with a number of his colleagues at Google (I'd also highlight Karen Wickre, who helps lead Google's efforts in blogging and on Twitter) are going to be the factor that decides whether or not Google falls prey to the dangers outlined in that essay. Matt concludes his comments with a simple, and inspiring exhortation:

Googlers, ask yourself how you can help make another one of those moments where you’re proud to work at Google. I think those moments are a great way to keep from becoming just another large company. And if Googlers are open to posts like Anil Dash’s, the web is tell us tons of things it wants us to do, or how to do them better.

Some other notable conversations around these ideas popped up as well:

  • The presciently-named (but independent) Google Operating System blog offers up Google's Changing Corporate Culture.
  • Ex-Googler, current FriendFeeder and all-around good guy Kevin Fox takes issue with some of my points in Google's Apple Moment. Kevin raises the point that a lot of Googlers did: It's okay for Google to have two different operating systems because they serve two different markets. I don't disagree — I did ask in my original essay "If the keyboard works with my fingers instead of my thumbs, I should use Chrome OS and not Android?" and folks at Google have already responded to me privately with, in effect, "Actually, that might not be such a bad way to put it..." My point, though, was not that it doesn't make good technical sense to have these systems. Rather, that sort of roadmap complexity makes it hard for casual outside observers to believe that their needs are being put ahead of the company's platform ambitions. I'll chalk up the lack of clarity there to my own poor editing and the fact that John Gruber highlighted that bit on Daring Fireball, which may have put more focus on what was a relatively minor point.
  • I loved, and totally agree with, Mini-Microsoft's Microsoft Has Turned The Corner. This makes explicit what was part of the subtext of my essay: Even Microsoft doesn't do this kind of shifty crap anymore, if they can help it. And to their credit, Microsoft since Ray Ozzie's ascension has also seemed to regain their ambition and clarity around creating innovative products. I'm not sure if that's correlation or causation, but it's good to see regardless, and this is a post well worth reading in full.
  • One of my favorite bloggers, Mike Masnick of TechDirt, asks Has Google Reached The Perception Tipping Point? The post consists of the single word "Yes." Okay, not really, but it's still thoughtfully argued and especially highlights Google's recent track record in the area of intellectual property and DRM, which is TechDirt's strongest suit.
  • Finally, a couple more mentions in bigger media: BusinessWeek's Rob Hof offers up a critical look at Google's strategy, which is a welcome change from most mainstream press that tend to slavishly puff up any pronouncement of this scale that comes out of the tech industry. Similarly, Alex Pham at the LA Times puts the Chrome OS story in the context of Microsoft's Office 2010 announcement today. Matt Asay has an even more skeptical take over at CNET. And finally I thought MG Siegler's brief post about the back-and-forth between me and Matt Cutts offered up a nice perspective on the perils and potential of this inflection point in Google's evolution.

Here's a two-fer: Chris Anderson's CNN Commentary on Google, Microsoft, and Free. Chris ruminates on whether the tech giants' habit of entering new markets with free products funded by the obscene margin they make in their primary lines of business is going to face legal scrutiny in the future. Recommended if you liked either Google's Microsoft Moment or Free Criticism, Science After Data and Airport Books.

Reason mag's Tim Cavanaugh had an amusing riff that referenced that post of mine from the other day: Resolved: The New York Times Should Be Staffed By Volunteers, Like Meals On Wheels. I thought it was a fun read, at least.

And if you're seeking out even more comment on these topics, Silicon Alley Insider has a pretty fun thread in response to my Free Criticism post, along with a slightly more inane one in response to last month's post about The Future of Facebook Usernames.

Finally, some stuff that's actually related to my day job:

  • Tony Dearing at has a really smart take on a conversation we had about what that site is doing to make a real community-focused local news website. I think the current team has the best chance at success of any of the dozens of similar efforts I've seen over the past several years.
  • In a similar vein, Ken Edwards has a detailed look at what it's taken to build the new BG Views community at Bowling Green State University. It's always fun to watch a project like that from afar and get to see a new community take off.

Thanks to everyone for great comments on my previous posts, and even more for the inspiring conversations that have happened around these topics. And a specialy thanks to the many of you who've shared links to these pieces on Twitter: @padmasree, @timoreilly were instrumental in kicking off the broader conversation around the recent Google post, and it was really gratifying to see @wilw find a quote in my Free Criticism essay that really seems to have struck a nerve.

Okay, Fine: Links!

October 15, 2007

Put these in your browser, and shake well.

  • Facebook apps are not a long tail. So says Chris Anderson, who oughtta know. The tougher question is: Since the recent changes to app distribution on Facebook's platform, will there ever be another popular new application on Facebook again. Or is the era of hit F8 apps over already?
  • Prince is Rolling Stone's most underrated guitarist. The article's got a great shot of Prince's most ridiculously entertaining affectation of recent years: His habit of throwing his guitar away in faux-disgust at the end of his solos. His poor guitar tech Takumi is gonna take one of these spiky symbol-shaped guitars to the head one of these days while trying to make the catch.
  • I loved Ian Rogers' post about digital music, "Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses". Choice quote: "Back in 1999 ... We naively and enthusiastically suggested to labels that we’d be a great place to sell MP3s. The response from the labels at the time was universally, 'What’s MP3?' or 'Um, no.' Instead they commenced suing Napster." Working in music promo online back then, I got to see those reactions first hand, and I guess I was equally naive.
  • Rafe points to Jeff Atwood's great post about copyright and YouTube. I have the opposite conclusion than these guys: If YouTube has created something fantastic, and it required copyright violation to do so, then copyright law should be changed to make it legal. Laws are ours, people -- they're not carved on stone tablets.
  • The PlayStation 3 is a complete failure for casual gaming. That's not news, but it's never been articulated as well. Especially damning is that even the fanboys can only dispute minor facts, not the fundamental conclusion.

...and five is jumping the shark

July 19, 2007

Did I say two three’s a trend? I forgot to mention the guy who started it all, both this month and in the last century, too: Michael Sippey’s blogging again, for reals this time. The design is better than yours and there’s even some thinking behind it.

Two's a Trend: Links are Back!

July 18, 2007

  • Andre Torrez: “My little experiment in tossing links out of the main blog didn’t work out so hot. I like linking things, but I don’t like the lazy feeling of stuff just showing up here at some point in the day.”
  • Rafe Colburn: “I still haven’t struck the balance I’d like between posting links and posting longer features here… So now my new idea is to post a wrapup of what I’m finding here every day or two in a more narrative form. This is the first attempt.”

Three’s a trend, too.

Find Me Around the Web

March 26, 2007

I've found some interesting articles around the web recently that mention me or my blog, and while I don't try to be comprehensive in linking to everything that mentions my name, I thought these were compelling enough on their own to be worth reading.

  • Ross Mayfield's Twitter Tips the Tuna. I think the title is an unfortunately awkward parallel to "jumping the shark", but the title is the only part of the piece that's off -- the rest is really great. Ross has already done a few posts about Twitter's popularity and I'm glad to see someone who knows what he's talking about become the go-to guy for quotes on a new web technology. Ross' post references my own Consider Twitter.
  • Jason Calacanis, More proof that there is no A-list. Inexplicably, I'm on there mentioned as an A-list blogger. The whole "A-list" meme was tired back in 2000, but now it's kind of sweetly anachronistic to even talk about it. For what it's worth, my blog is far less popular than it was at its zenith of readership, and the blogosphere is far more crowded. So I don't know how useful I am as a data point, except to note that yes, I was "a low-level webmonkey at the Village Voice" before my current job, and that, yes the barriers to entry are lower than some people imagine them to be. Four years ago, when my blog was still relatively popular, I wrote Beyond Power Laws. The post reminds me that I used to be a snob about LiveJournal before I started using it and loving it, but it also featured some tips on how to make your blog popular:

* Consider having started your site in 1998 or 1999
* Know a whole lot of people and consider becoming real-life friends with people who have popular sites or are involved in the media
* Get on TV and in newspapers as frequently as possible to promote your site, because those really help drive traffic
* Make sure to insist that you are smart and attractive if you can't actually demonstrate those traits through your site

  • Jeremiah Owyang has a list of Asian technology speakers. It's an interesting effort, but I've seen people over the definition of "female" on lists of female technology speakers -- I don't envy the task of defining who belongs to the diaspora of the largest continent on Earth.
  • And saving the goofiest for last, Blog Spring in Wired: "Look! There’s Anil Dash of". Here I am!

Ask MetaFilter Links

December 11, 2006

If you were interested in How Matt Haughey beat Google with Ask MetaFilter, you might enjoy some more information about the site.

  • The Chicago Tribune's Steve Johnson offered an astute look at Google Answers, as well as a nice plug for Ask MetaFilter, last week. The site requires an exasperating login, but the good news is you can also find the piece without a registration Hypertext blog. (Yay, it's a TypePad blog!)

A more enticing Ask is Ask MetaFilter (, which also poses questions to a user community. The longstanding site is highly entertaining reading because it gets metaphysical, although the drawback is that it'll cost you $5 to join the MetaFilter community.

While Yahoo Answers is more about facts, Ask MetaFilter, in its best moments, is about feelings, opinions, theories of life. A recent, not atypical question: "Did you marry someone despite misgivings and have it actually work?"

  • One trope that's rapidly gaining currency among lazy resourceful young professional bloggers is to collect Ask MetaFilter answers about a topic of interest. MediaBistro collects writing advice; LifeHacker collects, well, life hacks.

The best answers on Metafilter are those that provide an Aha! moment -- like the obscure book you remember from childhood, only you can't recall the title. Someone will know. And when you want to find the best (used book store/pancake joint/park) anywhere in the world, chances are that one of Metafilter's thousands of members will tell you exactly where to go. So if "Five for Friday" didn’t give you the right mix of ideas for weekend fun, go ahead, ask Metafilter. We won’t be insulted. And we may even give you the answer.

  • If you want to see what other prominent Q&A sites look like, look no further than Amazon's Askville (Yay, another TypePad blog!) and Yahoo! Answers. There are some great things about both sites, but neither really holds my attention, at least so far.

How long can a normal, healthy 8 week old kitten survive inside an adult python? URGENT?

I am fairly certain that the python did not chew much. I also do not want to damage the python much.... what is the best strategy for rescuing the kitten?

The answers are a lot better than the questions.

This is what you should read on the web

November 15, 2006

Jay-Z, The CEO of Hip Hop

  • So maybe Gracenote (formerly CDDB) isn't evil after all? I love anything that challenges the conventional wisdom, especially when someone's gotten a bad rap. Good reporting, Eliot Van Buskirk! I'd been accepting the received wisdom about this company for years, apparently unfairly. Do we have a tech equivalent term for "urban legend"?
  • That site should probably have a sitemap at some point.

Allen's actions that day stood out because they were not representative of how I was treated while traveling around the state. Everywhere I went, though I was identifiably working on behalf of Allen's opponent, people treated me with dignity, respect and kindness. I cannot recall one event where food was served and I was not invited to join in the meal. In southwest Virginia, hospitality toward me was at a high point.

I don't mean to belabor the macaca point, and the story is much more nuanced than it seems, but I hope all the slobbering politicians, regardless of political persuasion, take away a simple lesson from this: If you fuck with Indians in America, you will lose control of both houses of Congress.

  • I'm going to be on Cranky Geeks again. Seems to me the show's gotten a lot better since their blog switched to Movable Type. And I get to talk about the Wii and Vox, two of my favorite toys! Hooray.
  • In case you missed it, you should watch the "I got a brown Zune" movie at the end of my last post. It's the finest film you'll see all year, or your money back. You'll also find yourself saying to yourself, "I got a brown Zune!" over and over.

Though they were just as expensive to create as the TV ads, HP opted not to buy television time for these spots. According to Roman, this was the plan from the outset. HP decided that Web ads have become radically more effective of late, and thus that it's worth it to spend money on high production values.

I feel so manipulated! Eh, fuck it. I like the ads anyway. Three dimensional stadium rendering!

I Put Links In The Blog...

July 25, 2006

...and you put links in your browser, and that's what makes the web work.

  • Michael Fitzgerald has a nice piece in CIO about starting a business blog. I'm in there, briefly, but it's worth reading anyway.
  • FAQs and Walkthroughs for New Super Mario Bros. I've got three stars, I've done Challenge Mode... now I'm just wandering around looking for things to do.
  • Data structures as culture. I love this stuff: "Microsoft emphasizes tree problems because their culture puts a high value on the kind of mental gymnastics often necessary to solve such problems, while Apple emphasizes hashtables because its aesthetically-oriented culture prizes their combination of zen-like simplicity and seemingly impossible speed."